• Sunset confirms the László Nemes’ 2015 debut Son of Soul was no fluke or happy accident experiment. It was, instead, the debut of a bold new voice for 21st century cinema— and Sunset is a remarkable companion
  • The Hungarian auteur takes the same dogmatic approach here in his sophomore effort: point of view subjective cinema via the central character’s (Juli Jakab here) shoulder/neck/face/back— often in soft focus – meaning the background is often blurred. The camera is tethered to her for the entire running time. This approach, though different (and historically unique) has similarities to first person POV cinema (like Lady in the Lake) or one-take (or long take) cinema (like Russian Ark, 1917).

    The Hungarian auteur takes the same dogmatic approach here in his sophomore effort: point of view subjective cinema via the central character’s (Juli Jakab here) shoulder/neck/face/back— often in soft focus – meaning the background is often blurred

  • Starts with actress Juli Jakab (playing Írisz Leiter) trying on hats- seemingly innocuous at the time- but will came back later to have  major meaning behind it
  • We get only breadcrumbs of the story at first—piece by piece–purposefully opaque — the parts given to Jakab’s character. It makes for a mystery/detective film even a noir type story deployment even if the setting and costume work would make you think you’re in a Merchant Ivory film (set in 1913 Budapest).
  • Cryptic and impressionistic (both the unraveling of the story and visual style)—lots of close-ups- different though than Dreyer capturing Falconetti or Jonathan Demme
  • Again proof Nemes is a singular artist- rigidly formal, intellectual in his approach

    Again proof Nemes is a singular artist- rigidly formal, intellectual in his approach

  • Tracks Jakab around a bustling Budapest with gorgeous yellow natural lighting and costume/period décor detail. We feel her solitude (she’s an orphan), her fear (characters in the background (blurred out) constantly whispering about her), paranoia, and the ugliness of this world and people around her- Son of Saul
  • I think the disorientation (intentional) and unfamiliarity with the story/setting may be the reason for the tepid response in comparison with Son of Saul – in Saul we are all familiar with the Holocaust and that world (at least partially from history and films)
  • It’s stylistically fascinating both on its own and in comparison with cinema historically. It deconstructs and opposes Bazin, Murnau—Welles and Wyler’s deep focus – or even Roy Andersson’s cinematic paintings

    It’s stylistically fascinating both on its own and in comparison with cinema historically. It deconstructs and opposes Bazin, Murnau—Welles and Wyler’s deep focus – or even Roy Andersson’s cinematic paintings

  • A great sequence at the 59 min mark – magic hour lighting as the train arrives – something that looks like it comes right out of Malick’s Days of Heaven– this isn’t sustained but still- beautiful

    A great sequence at the 59 min mark – magic hour lighting as the train arrives – something that looks like it comes right out of Malick’s Days of Heaven– this isn’t sustained but still- beautiful

  • Like Son of Saul she has a one-track mind and is willing to die for it- she’s relentlessly pursuing answers- first it’s about her brother, then uncovering this story—multiple people threatening her and putting her on a train to leave-  (as her same outfit gets dirtier and dirtier)—this works almost like The Big Lebowski or The Big Sleep – she’s a detective- an unconventional one for sure
  • Many extras- the jubilee set pieces, the murder at the mansion, extraordinary choreography and period detail—I bet it does drive some people (maybe production designers) a little nuts that have of the time at least this beauty is all fuzzy in the frame with the soft focus
  • Nemes has clear and unique approach- he is a contemporary master- this is one perspective with a clear dedication to that aesthetic (set of principals underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist)- one perspective. If he blinks from that, even for one scene, the spell would be broken and the work would be so much less
  • At 122 minutes there is a stunner of a frame- the Zelma character (Evelin Dobos) goes off to be sacrificed and Nemes takes the frame from soft focus to a total blur—stunning

    At 122 minutes there is a stunner of a frame- the Zelma character (Evelin Dobos) goes off to be sacrificed and Nemes takes the frame from soft focus to a total blur—stunning

  • Kafka feels like an influence, The Castle from Haneke, The Trial from Welles, Transit (2018) from Christian Petzold feels like a cousin
  • Ends with her walking away out of focus completely- brilliantthen a long ellipsis — and the haunting Paths of Glory-like tracking shot through the trenches
  • A Must-See film